This afternoon, I attended some intriguing presentations from the Population Center’s Summer Institute graduates. Among them, John Blosnich, PhD candidate of Public Health Sciences at West Virginia University stuck out as a researcher looking into violence and discrimination within the context of LGB youth smoking rates. In his presentation, titled: “Deconstructing a Disparity: Association of Violence and Discrimination with Smoking Among Sexual Minority Youth Adults,” John discusses the hypothesis that minority stress (including homophobia, alcohol abuse, depression, disclosure and bullying) may impact smoking rates among LGB youth–specifically, with regarding minority stress, how sexual minorities use tobacco as a strategy to deal with stress.
Using the National College Health Assessment Survey Fall 2008/Spring 2009 data, John identified the variables victimization, discrimination and tobacco use in comparing gay, lesbians and bisexuals with heterosexuals. As expected, GLB youth experienced not only higher rates of smoking but also higher rates of sexual assault, discrimination, physical assault and threats. However, despite higher rates of all of these factors, higher rates of discrimination and assault did not translate into higher smoking rates. In other words, discrimination and other minority related negative experiences did not affect smoking rates in this sample.
As a result of these findings, John plans to look at resiliency as a factor in why LGBT people who experience discrimination don’t smoke. In addition, he plans to look more closely at gender and race within this context. We are very excited to follow the progress of John’s research project to see what his research yields. Stay tuned for some information, and for more information or to discuss the project, please email him.
by Emilia Dunham
Program Associate with the Network for LGBT Tobacco Control